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Covid-19 impact on crime statistics was ‘substantial’, say police

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Crime rates fell in 2020, in part because of public safety regulations introduced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic

Police recorded a sharp increase in antisocial crimes in 2020 as a result of coronavirus pandemic restrictions, according to the latest statistics.

But the public safety regulations introduced as a result of the virus also resulted in a decrease in other types of offences.

According to figures contained in the Bermuda Police Service 2020 Official Statistics Report, there were 917 crimes against the community committed in 2020 – around twice as many as in previous years.

Almost half of those offences – 435 – were committed in the second quarter of the year after public safety restrictions such as curfews, large group prohibitions, and mandatory mask wearing laws were introduced to combat the spread of the virus.

There were 278 Covid-related offences committed between April and June 2020, but just 14 in the third quarter and 23 in the last three months of the year.

The report noted: “There was a dramatic increase in recorded crimes against the community in Q2 2020. The impact of Covid-19 on the official statistics 2020 was substantial, with legislation creating new offences.

“In Q2 2020 antisocial behaviour was the main driver for crimes against the community due to Covid offences, and therefore a driver for all crime.”

In total, there were 3,297 crimes committed in 2020, down by 50, or 1.5 per cent, on the previous year, and the second lowest number for a year since comparable records began in 2000.

There was a drop in crimes against the person from 741 in 2019 to 639 in 2020.

The report stated: “Year-on-year decreases were recorded in every category, except murder where nine offences were recorded, compared to two in 2019.

“Decreases in all the other categories may have been due to Covid-19 regulations being in place, that minimised social gatherings and the potential for suspects and victims to be in proximity.

“Q4 2020 had a curfew and other Covid-19 regulations, so the ability for persons to commit offences was severely reduced.”

Of the nine murders carried out during the year, two were committed with a firearm. A further ten people were injured in shootings and there were 52 firearms incidents during the year in total – the highest figure since 2016.

There were 548 assaults during the year, including 34 serious assaults and 45 sexual assaults. That represents a decrease on 2019, when there were 629 assaults in total, of which 42 were serious and 50 were sexual.

The number of robberies almost halved, from 40 in 2019 to 21 in 2020, and burglaries were also down from 475 to 416.

There were sobering statistics from the island’s roads, with seven road traffic accident fatalities. A further 544 motorists were injured, 87 of them seriously. The year also saw 247 arrests for suspected driving under the influence.

The summer also brought a huge swell in the number of marine traffic violations. There were 120 offences on the water between April September, compared to just three for the same period in 2019, 28 in 2018, 50 in 2017, and 36 in 2016.

But arrests were also down significantly – from a yearly average of just over 2,800 in the four years between 2016 and 2019, to just 2,138 in 2020. That figure was also the lowest number since records began in 2008.

More than half of those arrested – 1,165 suspects – were aged between 18 and 35. A further 74 were under the age of 18 while the oldest person arrested was 86.

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Published July 29, 2022 at 6:31 am (Updated July 29, 2022 at 6:31 am)

Covid-19 impact on crime statistics was ‘substantial’, say police

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